PEABODY — Up to 1,200 seniors have the chance to grab some fresh fruits and vegetables for free at the Torigian Center this summer.
The Peabody Council on Aging and Lahey Health have partnered to offer a farmers market program to 60 different seniors each week for 20 weeks. Produce comes from local farms, and the entire harvest is paid for by the JB Thomas Lahey Foundation.
“The great thing about this is it’s not based on income; it’s based on interest,” said COA Director Carolyn Wynn on Friday after kicking off the program with local officials, Lahey representatives and the first group of seniors.
Mayor Ted Bettencourt thanked to Lahey and the charitable fund for supporting community programs in Peabody. He said the new market is a great way to encourage healthy and active living for senior citizens.
The market is for anyone 60 and older who’s interested, and if the past is any indicator, there will definitely be interest. Wynn said the center gets 100 coupons to the Peabody farmers market each year, and they’re usually gone within 10 minutes. The new program is already booked into July, she said.
Each week, seniors will be able to choose from a mix of seasonally available fruits, salad and cooking greens, tomatoes, eggplant, carrots, potatoes and a variety of other vegetables. Lahey Health is also partnering with World PEAS, which distributes sustainable vegetables grown by more than 30 immigrant and refugee farmers, along with tree fruits and berries from local orchards. Vegetables and fruits will vary each week.
In addition to the fresh produce, dietary and nutritional information also will be handed out to each participant. It’s another way to connect seniors to classes and activities at the Torigian Center, Wynn said.
Ed Jaworski was first in line to pick up his produce Friday, but in his motorized wheelchair, he had some help from volunteer Joe Mendonca. Jaworski said it was a good program for older residents and very convenient for people who already frequent the senior center, as he does.